About the project
Work Based Learning as Integrated Curriculum (WBLIC) is a 2 year international research project aimed at identifying best practice in work/practice relevant learning in higher education settings. Researchers at Leeds Beckett University, UK, are leading the EU Lifelong Learning programme-funded project which seeks to place integrated curriculum at the forefront of developments in higher education. Integrated curriculum is seen as one of the key factors in improving the match between graduate skills and employers’ needs. This is a challenge which HE curricula must respond to in today’s economic climate to realise the aspiration set out in the strategic framework for European co-operation in education and training.
A Framework for Good Practice
Fundamental to this project is the exchange and interchange of experiences and approaches. We aim to present our findings in a way that articulates the essential success factors for effective integrated curriculum by making them available as reference material, in a range of formats, to a wide audience including small and medium-sized enterprises. The project will connect with the interests of various groups including higher education institutions, institutional stakeholders, students, employers and employers’ associations. Key outputs include:
- An overview of work-based learning in Europe.
- The development of case studies (click here for posters, summaries and a review of case study findings) and Good Practice Framework for higher education institutions, stakeholders responsible for curriculum development and employers and employers’ associations.
- Testing of the resources in mini-conferences in three partner institutions, reflecting different systemic backgrounds. Click here for a presentation pack.
- Dissemination and distribution of work-related curricula and the integration of work based learning into Higher Education through professional networks as well as national and international partnerships.
WACE Symposium 2014
David Devins and Johannes Hass participated at the World Association of Cooperative Education (WACE) Symposium hosted by University West in Trollhättan, Sweden. David presented a paper exploring the sustainability of work integrated learning in Europe that highlighted WBLIC as a dynamic framework guiding teaching and learning processes. The analysis identified variations between member States, particularly related to the national regulatory environment governing curriculum development. However, the research also identified common factors which impact on the successful development of curriculum that can be used to support employer-university partnerships and the development of the institutional capital necessary to develop and sustain Work Integrated Learning. More information on the Symposium and access to all the refereed papers is at http://www.waceinc.org/uwest2014/proceedings.html
Invitation to European Monitoring Conference
Reina Ferrandez (University Jaume 1) and David Devins (Leeds Met) have been invited by EACEA to present the findings of the WBLIC project at the European Monitoring Conference – Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeships to be held in Brussels in February. More than 300 delegates are expected to attend the conference which aims to exchange knowledge and expertise concerning work-based learning at a range of education levels.
Professor Reina Ferrández was invited to Madrid in November to inform the Spanish national agency and other national agencies from Sweden, Slovenia, Finland, Czech and Italy about WBLIC. The European Commission is developing a project "Network Work-Based Learning" in which 29 from the 31 National Agencies are collecting information about EU projects and programmes directly related to WBL in order to build a ‘toolbox’ for WBL to be developed by the network. WBLIC is one of the candidate projects to be selected for the first conference to be held in Brussels next February.
David Devins presented the paper ‘WBL as an integrated Higher Education Curriculum in Europe’ at the 18th World Conference of Cooperative Education and Work Integrated Learning in Durban, South Africa (24-27 June 2013). The paper reviewed the literature to conceptualise WBLIC and drew on the available empirical evidence to explore its adoption in Europe and some of the factors that influence this. The paper concludes that if the curriculum reform envisaged by policy makers is to be realised, there is a pressing need for a common framework to capture the essential characteristics of a range of forms of WBL as an integrated curriculum which should be used to inform policy development at the institutional, national and pan European levels.
The mini-conferences in Vienna, Cracow and Prague held at the end of May and in early June provided a means to test out in different national contexts the WBLIC Good Practice Framework. At each conference David Devins (Leeds Beckett University) presented the Good Practice Framework and outlined its structure and content. The Framework adopts a development cycle to ground it the realities of integrated curriculum development and to outline the case study and wider evidence which underpin it.
Stefan Humpl (3s) outlined the European context for WBL highlighting the changing role of modern societies and the challenge that universities face in positioning themselves to succeed in a global economy. Johannes Hass (FH Joanneum) outlined the distinctive features of an integrated curriculum through an in depth case study. The mini-conferences also provided an opportunity for those Institutions hosting the mini-conference to raise awareness of WBLIC and for influential employers such as IBM, Indesit and Proctor and Gamble to showcase their approaches to WBL.
Drawing on the case studies produced by partners and the latest research evidence to identify common best practice principles, a WBLIC framework of good practice is being developed to guide programme planners seeking to engage with accredited work based learning using an integrated curriculum. This Framework is being tested out in different national contexts through a series of mini-conferences to be held later this year in:
- Fachhochschule Technikum Wien, Austria (16th May 2013)
- Cracow University of Economics, Poland (4th June,2013)
- Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic (6th June, 2013)
To find out more about the mini-conferences please register your interest through this website.
WBLIC Partner Meeting in Graz, Austria
The second WBLIC partner meeting was held at FH Joanneum in Graz 26th-29th September and was an enjoyable and productive event. All partners attended and made a valued contribution to the development of WBLIC. The meeting included an overview of Work Based Learning in Europe which drew on the national reports provided by partners as part of Work package 1, a briefing on the Case Study Research and a discussion of the first iteration of the framework of good practice. Partners outlined initial plans for the mini-conferences to be held in the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain in May/June 2013 and discussed and agreed a dissemination strategy. Three members of the International Academy at FH Joanneum attended part of the meeting and shared information about some of the EU projects they are currently involved in. At the end of the meeting the Partners agreed an action plan to take the project into its final phase of implementation. The next meeting will take place in Castellon, Spain in May 2013.
There is recognition of the need for more systematic development of relationships between institutions of knowledge generation, education and training and the partners directly involved in generating economic growth. Solutions are required to the challenges of nurturing relationships between Higher Education Institutions and enterprises to provide accessible education to working students. Work based learning is one of these. It figures strongly in discussions of employability, work relevant skills and lifelong learning. For this to be effective, systematic dialogue with employers is required to determine the content and pedagogical approach of the study programme.
The project will engage in knowledge transfer activity in relation to the integrated design and delivery of programmes through accredited WBL. It will also identify principles of best practice and promote the development of new Higher Education/labour market partnerships for design and delivery of WBL programmes. By looking at examples of partnerships in different European countries, partners will share practice and approaches in their respective countries, identify common best practice principles and formulate and disseminate a framework to guide developers and those bodies wishing to engage with higher education accredited WBL.
The main impact of the project will be the development of work relevant curricula and student learning at the workplace and in practice. The research will support programme developers and inform approaches to involving enterprises in curricular design and reform. A set of guiding principles, frameworks and models will be developed that can be transferred to a range of contexts. This can inform effective integration of WBL into the curriculum and thereby facilitate greater cooperation between HEI’s and enterprises, making education more open and relevant to the needs of the labour market as well as the individual student or practitioner.
The research methodology consists of a literature review, case studies and seminars with relevant stakeholders followed by reflective refinement of research findings and recommendations.
The partners in the consortium bring together a range of complementary skills and relevant experience to support the achievement of the project objectives. All partners have an active interest in developing and promoting closer integration in the design and delivery of curriculum and associated development of Work Based Learning.